Feeds

'Secure' PayPal page is... you guessed it

Extended SSL no match for the power of XSS

The essential guide to IT transformation

A serious scripting error has been discovered on PayPal that could enable attackers to create convincing spoof pages that steal users' authentication credentials..

The cross-site scripting bug is made all the more critical because it resides on a page that uses an extended validation secure sockets layer certificate. The new-fangled SSL mechanism is designed to give users a higher degree of confidence that the page they're visiting is secure by turning their browser address bar green.

But Finnish researcher Harry Sintonen figured out a way to inject his own code into a supposedly protected PayPal page even as the green bar lulled visitors into believing it hadn't been tampered with. Sintonen's code simply caused an Internet Explorer alert window to open with the words "Is it safe?" as evidenced by the screenshot below.

Screenshot showing PayPay XSS vulnerability

During an online interview, he demonstrated a page that prompted users for their account credentials and then sent them to an unauthorized server, and he said it would be possible for him to steal user cookies as well. All the while, the address bar would bear the PayPal URL in green. At time of publication, eBay had not yet removed the buggy code.

A statement from PayPal said the company considers user security a top priority. "As soon as we were informed of this exploit, we began working very quickly to shut it down," the statement read. "To our knowledge, this exploit was not used in any phishing attacks". Unauthorized withdrawals or purchases made on PayPal accounts are fully reimbursed.

The discovery is one more reason to remain skeptical of extended validation SSL, which has always struck us as a solution in search of a problem. Yes, we know it's supposed to close a loophole that's long existed in SSL by certifying, in this case for example, that it is eBay (the parent company of PayPal) that owns the SSL certificate for the specific PayPal page. But we've not yet heard of a single attack involving a forged certificate, so we're tempted to think the measure is more gimmick designed to generate revenue for VeriSign and its competitors than anything else.

eBay security pros seem to have drunk the EV SSL Kool Aid, however, having announced recently (PDF alert) that browsers that don't support the new standard aren't welcome on the PayPal site.

XSS vulnerabilities have emerged as one of the easier and more common ways to subvert website security measures. They use manipulated URLs to get around the so-called same-origin policy, which prevents cookies and other types of content set by one domain from being accessed or manipulated by a different address.

Despite the proliferation of XSS attacks, McAfee's ScanAlert, which provides daily audits of ecommerce websites to certify them "Hacker Safe," gives clients the thumbs up even when XSS vulnerabilities are discovered on their pages. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?